Carrie L. Taylor Indicted for Theft, Perjury at Cecil County GOP Committee; State Prosecutor Charges Up to 25 Years in Jail

March 16, 2015

Carrie L. Taylor, the former treasurer of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee and a protégé of the old ‘Smipkin” GOP political machine, has been indicted by a grand jury on three counts of theft, embezzlement and perjury involving the elected party committee’s finances. If convicted, she could face up to 25 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The case was brought by the Office of the State Prosecutor, which under Maryland law is empowered to investigate and prosecute violations of state elections laws as well as political corruption cases. The prosecutor’s office is located in Towson, and often uses grand juries in Baltimore County to present its cases, but election law matters are governed by the state Board of Elections in Annapolis, in Anne Arundel County.

The indictments against Taylor, 35, who is listed as residing in the Patriot’s Glen community in Elkton, were returned 3/13/15 by an Anne Arundel County grand jury and disclosed Monday by State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt. “Maintaining the integrity of Maryland’s criminal and election laws has always been and shall remain of the utmost importance to this office. Committee treasurers must recognize that misuse of campaign funds will not be tolerated,” Davitt commented.

During her tenure as Treasurer and between December, 2010 through December, 2013, the State Prosecutor said that Taylor “made numerous unauthorized purchases and withdrawals from the Cecil County Republican Central Committee bank account…” The statement of charges against Taylor cites “felony theft, fraudulent misappropriation of campaign funds and perjury.”

At the time of the alleged offenses, Taylor filed campaign finance reports and served as treasurer of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee, handling contributions to and expenditures by the committee—whose nine members are elected by GOP voters every four years in the party’s primary. During the timeframe covered by the allegations, the committee was chaired by Chris Zeauskas, whose name was also listed as signing the finance reports questioned by the State Prosecutor. The indictment does not name anyone else but Taylor on the offenses.

Zeauskas recently resigned from the GOP committee, to which he won re-election in the 2014 party primary, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. [SEE CECIL TIMES report here: ]

However, sources said that it was on Zeauskas’ watch as chair that the problems were found and the Committee requested a State Prosecutor inquiry.

Overall, the charges cite a statutory range of financial misconduct of up to $10,000, but a Cecil Times examination of campaign finance reports filed by Taylor with the state Board of Elections suggests that the amount in question is about $7,071.

The most serious charge against Taylor, a felony, in the indictment was the allegation that between December, 2010 and December, 2013, Taylor “did steal money” from the GOP Central Committee funds over which she had authority as treasurer, “for her personal use and benefit.” That charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine upon conviction.

Taylor is also charged with a misdemeanor count of having “fraudulently and willfully” misappropriated committee funds to her personal use, “against the peace, government and dignity of the State.” That count of “fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary” carries a potential five years in prison penalty.

For many years, the GOP committee has hosted a fundraising chicken barbeque at the Cecil County fair, with donated food and usual net revenues generated of about $1,500, sources told Cecil Times. The State Prosecutor alleges that Taylor “retained cash raised during Committee fundraising events for her own personal use and benefit.”

The third charge against Taylor accuses her of perjury in filing a false campaign finance statement with the state Board of Elections on 1/16/14 falsely claiming there was a bank account balance for the GOP committee of $7,071.67, when “in fact the PNC bank account had been closed, containing no funds.”

An examination of the most recent campaign finance report filed by the new Cecil County Republican Central Committee—an amended report dated 1/21/15—includes the statement from the new leadership of the committee that the previously filed by Taylor claim of $7,071 in the bank was incorrect and “the new committee sworn in as of November 24, 2014 never received these funds from the old committee/treasurer. The new committee started with zero funds.”

The current chair of the panel, Bill Harris, told Cecil Times that the new leaders were not the requesters of the state inquiry and were informed of the suspected problems upon taking office. He said the new committee had remained silent as the state investigation proceeded. “Now we just want to move forward,” he said.

The latest committee finance report shows recent $100 contributions from each of four members of the newly elected GOP committee.

Taylor, who has worked as a paralegal, rose in Cecil County Republican political circles under the wings of former state Sen. E.J. Pipkin and his wife, Alisa. Mrs. Pipkin helped arrange for Taylor to take over leadership of the county’s Republican Women’s Club. In that capacity, Taylor moved around financial donations to the Women’s Club to benefit various Republican candidates favored by the “Smipkin” political organization then headed by Pipkin and former Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36).

Among the beneficiaries of donations to the Women’s Club was Taylor herself. As Cecil Times reported at the time, Taylor arranged for Women’s Club funds to be passed on to an intermediary Smipkin-aligned group that then passed money on to her own political campaign committee when she was running, with Pipkin’s blessing, for County Treasurer. Taylor lost in a party primary to William Feehley– but not before Taylor engineered donations of Women’s Club funds to a Smipkin-aligned Political Action Committee that turned around and donated money to her own campaign for treasurer.

[SEE previous CECIL TIMES report here:

In June, 2011, Taylor was appointed by the old “Three Amigos” majority of the Cecil County Board of Commissioners—allies of the Smipkin political machine—to a seat on the county liquor board that paid members a salary of $2,500 a year. She is no longer a member of the panel.

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